Review: Hyster J1.8XNT forklift

By: Matt Wood

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  • Plant & Equipment

HysterJ1.8XNT forklift HysterJ1.8XNT forklift HysterJ1.8XNT forklift
HysterJ1.8XNT forklift HysterJ1.8XNT forklift HysterJ1.8XNT forklift
HysterJ1.8XNT forklift HysterJ1.8XNT forklift HysterJ1.8XNT forklift
HysterJ1.8XNT forklift HysterJ1.8XNT forklift HysterJ1.8XNT forklift
HysterJ1.8XNT forklift HysterJ1.8XNT forklift HysterJ1.8XNT forklift

The Hyster J1.8XNT forklift is aimed right at the most competitive part of the market: 1.5 to 2.5-tonne capacity.

Review: Hyster J1.8XNT forklift
The Hyster J1.8XNT forklift, a member of the J XNT forklift series is a breeze to operate.

The Hyster name has a long and proud history in the world of fork lifts. Most acknowledge that it was both Hyster and Yale that pioneered the first fork lift trucks way back in the 1920s. But regardless of who started the ball rolling, nearly 100 years later the fork lift has evolved into a very different creature.

With the growing array of electric fork lifts being offered on the market, I recently took the opportunity to catch up with Hyster's J1.8 XNT three-wheel counter balance electric fork lift at Adaptalift Hyster in Melbourne.

As customer demands push technological developments along at astonishing speed, the J1.8 XNT has stormed in with all guns blazing, impressing national companies such as Reece Plumbing with its ergonomics and manoeuvrability.

Hyster J1.8XNT forklift

From outward appearances there isn't a lot to differentiate the little three-wheeler from its predecessors; the Hyster family look has been retained right down to the curve of its yellow rump. 

But looks can be deceiving and the J series has benefited from some considerable technological advances during its development. While the Hyster company has its origins in the United States, these days Hyster is a truly global concern and the J series XNT trucks are manufactured both in Italy and Ireland. 

As you would expect in this day and age the Hyster J1.8XNT forklift uses brushless AC drive technology not only for the drive motors but also for all hydraulic functions.

The benefits of three-phase AC drive are widely accepted from features like regenerative braking to longer shifts between battery charging. The sealed AC drive motors have little in the way of moving parts and the Hyster's motors have an Ingress Protection (IP) rating of 54, making them dust-proof and resistant to water.

The traditional Anderson plug electrical connectors are gone, replaced with DIN connectors. And battery-wise, Hyster have moved towards a single-point watering system.

But on the outside Hyster stuck with steel construction where possible, from where I was standing there seemed to be little that could be easily bent or broken in case of a mishap.

The tHyster J1.8XNT forklift truck also featured LED lighting all round, the benefits of light emitting diodes are self-explanatory. LEDs have no globes to change, are very tough and impact resistant. They are also very bright without drawing a lot of battery power, an important feature on an electric vehicle of any kind.

From behind the wheel the baby Hyster had everything in reach in the traditional sense. An operator using the 1.8 for the first time would have no trouble getting used to the layout with the lift, tilt and side shift levers all mounted to the right of the driver's seat.

On closer inspection however the clever subtleties of the J series forklift truck become more apparent.

For a start its compact layout contributes to the extremely tight turning radius of the J series and raises the operator within the vehicle. From the driver's seat visibility is excellent. Out front the three-stage mast is easy to see through and around.

But perhaps the most striking thing about the layout of the Hyster is the abandonment of the traditional dashboard readout. Below the drivers eye level there is virtually nothing to look at, the adjustable steering column and dashboard are devoid of lights and readouts, save for a headlight switch and storage areas.

All vehicle information is displayed on a display unit mounted inside the top right-hand corner of the fork lift. This rather neat idea keeps the driver's head up and observing their surroundings while still being able access vehicle information quickly and easily.

Hyster managed to squeeze a lot into a little package. Just flipping the battery access cover under the driver's seat reveals not only the battery but also the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) which is easily accessible behind the battery.

On the whole, everything on the Hyster J1.8XNT appears solid and easy to get to and more importantly easy to operate. Year 2011 was Adaptalift's biggest sales year to date in the usually slower moving 8-tonne and over sales segment, now with the introduction of the little Hyster, Adaptalift may have a worthy addition to a burgeoning market place.

But Adaptalift have more than one ace up their sleeve. These days' companies using large fleets of material handling equipment want to observe the productivity of their fleet.

There are many products now available that allow managers monitor their equipment and productivity but many of them come from either a third part supplier or have been developed overseas. Adaptalift have responded to this by developing their own vehicle monitoring system, Forktrack.

The Forktrack system has been developed locally by Adaptalift Engineering Manager Nathan McKenzie and provides an astonishing amount of vehicle and system information as well as control over the vehicles performance and movements.

Operator swipe card and pin pad technology has been around for a while now as well as seat belt interlocks. Added to these features Forktrack can provide an operator pre-shift checklist via the Forktrack module on the fork lift.

But the fleet management system also reports impacts and in the case of a severe impact will shut down the machine all together, the system can communicate using Wi-Fi, GPRS or 3G systems.

On a large site speed can be a real issue. There are often situations where a fork lift may have to travel outside in an open environment for much of its shift but will also have to work indoors at close quarters with other machinery and workers.

Systems like Forktrack enable speed zones to be established so that the speed of the machine can be automatically raised or lowered depending on the environment the machine is entering automatically and in real time.

For a premium of around $20 per unit per week, Forktrack gives managerial staff the ability to monitor their fleet and individual units via an online portal.

And it seems that the sky is the limit with the system, on board scales, weight recording, lift function lockout when overloaded, battery monitoring etc. In fact, Forktrack has even proved flexible enough to be fitted to road-going stretch limousines.

McKenzie's success with the system has led to an export market that is seeing 500 Forktrack units a month being exported to the US and United Kingdom, not bad for a bit of Aussie ingenuity.

Review originally published in SupplyChainReview magazine issue 132, October 2012.

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